Saturday, February 2, 2019

William Hooker Trio (feat. Ava Mendoza & Damon Smith) - Remembering (Astral Spirits) ****

By Martin Schray
 
William Hooker, one of my favourite drummers, has always liked to work with guitarists, e.g. Lee Ranaldo, Jim O’Rourke, Thurston Moore (all from Sonic Youth), Elliott Sharp and Donald Miller, for example. On Remembering, he’s heard in a trio with one of today’s most interesting guitarists, Ava Mendoza, and bassist Damon Smith.

Mendoza’s style is eclectic, she combines the sound of Robert Fripp, James Blood Ulmer, and Sylvia Juncosa. She lets the phrases proliferate, comprising and expanding them. Her shrill, sharp sound makes her a perfect partner for Smith and Hooker, whose drumming is turbulent and thunderous as usual. In the quieter moments the trio displays an enormous energy. “Grand - I Will“ for example, starts off slowly, the trio needs a little time to pick up speed, the guitar meandering, flickering. Mendoza always plays her guitar slightly offset, as if she was a bit off track, however she soars over the rhythmic bed created by Hooker and Smith. In general, the music is a captivating mixture of free improv and avant-garde rock.

What’s puzzling though, is the fact that this actually was a coherent 35-minute performance. However, the musicians and the label have decided not to release the performance as a single unity, but split it into seven tracks, ranging in length from 2:36 to 7:02. They fade out and back in again, which is a bit strange. But the music is excellent, no doubt.

Remembering is available as a cassette and as a download.

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